Medical Research

Ear Acupuncture for Weight Loss

Kristen Sparrow • May 31, 2014

A patient of mine alerted me to this Korean study.  They compared sham ear acupuncture (needles placed then immediately withdrawn) to 5 ear acupuncture points (Korean formula) and 1 ear acupuncture point (Hunger point.)  Both the 5 point and the one point treatment reduced BMI by about 6%.  My patient and I are now sporting hunger point tacks.  I will let you know…

Acupunct Med. 2014 Apr;32(2):132-8.

Randomised clinical trial of five ear acupuncture points for the treatment of overweight people.

Yeo S1, Kim KS, Lim S.

Author information 

  • 1Department of Meridian and Acupuncture, Graduate College of Basic Korean Medical Science, Kyung Hee University, , Seoul, South Korea.

To evaluate the efficacy of the five ear acupuncture points (Shen-men, Spleen, Stomach, Hunger, Endocrine), generally used in Korean clinics for treating obesity, and compare them with the Hunger acupuncture point.


A randomised controlled clinical trial was conducted in 91 Koreans (16 male and 75 female, body mass index (BMI)≥23), who had not received any other weight control treatment within the past 6 months. Subjects were divided randomly into treatment I, treatment II or sham control groups and received unilateral auricular acupuncture with indwelling needles replaced weekly for 8 weeks. Treatment I group received acupuncture at the five ear acupuncture points, treatment II group at the Hunger acupuncture point only and the sham control group received acupuncture at the five ear acupuncture points used in treatment I, but the needles were removed immediately after insertion. BMI, waist circumference, weight, body fat mass (BFM), percentage body fat and blood pressure were measured at baseline and at 4 and 8 weeks after treatment.


For the 58 participants who provided data at 8 weeks, significant differences in BMI, weight and BFM were found between the treatment and control groups. Treatment groups I and II showed 6.1% and 5.7% reduction in BMI, respectively (p<0.004). There were no significant differences between the two treatment groups.


This finding suggests that the five ear acupuncture points, generally used in Korean clinics, and the Hunger point alone treatment are both effective for treating overweight people.